Mon, 23 Sep 2019

Jamie Oliver's British Restaurant Chain Collapses

Voice of America
22 May 2019, 12:09 GMT+10

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver's restaurant chain in Britain has filed for bankruptcy protection, closing 22 of its 25 eateries and leaving some 1,000 people out of work.

The remaining outlets, two Jamie's Italian restaurants and a Jamie's Diner at Gatwick Airport outside London, will stay open, the financial firm KPMG, which will oversee the process, said in a statement Tuesday.

Oliver said on Twitter he was 'devastated that our much-loved UK restaurants have gone into administration,' a form of bankruptcy protection, and thanked people 'who have put their hearts and souls into this business over the years.'

Oliver gained fame as 'The Naked Chef' on television, which aired in dozens of countries, after premiering in Britain some 20 years ago. The television success was followed by a number of cookbooks. The restaurant chain included Jamie's Italian, Jamie Oliver's Diner and Barbecoa steakhouses.

Five branches of the Australian arm of Jamie's Italian have also been sold and another put into administration.

Oliver's restaurants started to lose revenue in 2016. Business got so bad for the restaurant group that Oliver injected millions of dollars of his own money in an effort to turn the tide.

'The current trading environment for companies across the casual dining sector is as tough as I've ever seen,' Will Wright, an administrator at KPMG, said in a statement. 'The directors at Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group have worked tirelessly to stabilize the business against a backdrop of rising costs and brittle consumer confidence.'

Other British chains have also had to close outlets. Earlier this year, cafe chain Patisserie Valerie was forced to close 70 outlets, at the cost of 920 jobs.

Celebrity chefs in the U.S. have also fallen on hard times. Thomas Keller closed Bouchon in Beverly Hills in 2017, saying it couldn't remain profitable. That same year, Guy Fieri closed Guy's American Kitchen and Bar in New York's Times Square and Daniel Boulud closed DBGB Kitchen and Bar in New York, saying it didn't get enough business during the week.

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